There we stood: the hobo, the circus clown with the red SOS pad sidehair, Casper the friendly ghost, and Fred Flintstone.
My Colombian family had not been in this country long enough to understand all the essential childhood nuances of Halloween’s Trick or Treat in the 1960′s, especially for a girl:
The Trick or Treat Night Dream List:
My costume will be home made and glittery and have some netting, somewhere
My trick or treat candy bag will be home made and glittery and match my costume
The Please Dear God Basics List:
My costume will fit.
My costume is one for a girl, if I’m a girl.
I should be able to go with friends, not all of my siblings instead
The Colombian Child’s Lord Kill Me Now List:
I should not be sent out into the dark night with a plastic baggie full of pennies so I can pay the person giving out the candy so that no one can say I took candy from them.
I should not have to go trick or treating with my non English speaking parents only 5 feet away asking “que es eso?” for every candy I get so that I end up translating for both sides explaining what I got, to who gave it to me, not knowing who the heck wants to know anymore.
My parents could not understand Trick or Treat, and as painful as it was to go along with all the unamericanism they threw into it, my siblings and I begged to be allowed to join the others on this most exciting of nights for children.
Trick or Treat in the late 60′s went on in the pitch black night. We had explained to our mother that we would need costumes. Times then were charming: costumes were sold in the local five and dime stores, all boxed with the cellophane peekhole so you could see what was inside.
As my parents were out buying the costumes on Halloween day, we watched and waited for their return, squeezed against our front room window. Oh, the hope that we still had..that somehow, our mother and father would come through.
When they came home, we all attacked them at the door, diving into the Ben Franklin Craft Shop bag. We held up the four boxes, and stared at the masks looking up at us from their cozy cellophaned home. The plastic faces that stared back at us were no one we wanted to spend time being.
Our choices for the night were: Mr. 5 o’clock shadow hobo man, white faced Bozo the Clown with blood red cream puffs for hair, Casper, and the god almighty ugly Fred Flintstone.
Where was Snow White? Where was Superman? Where was Cinderella?
All I could think was, god in heaven why is this my life. Followed by the next automatic thought, Oh well let’s just do this.
I don’t think it’ll come as much of a surprise that the only costume that fit me was Fred Flintstone.
Well, at least we wouldn’t be fighting over the least mentally harmful visage, cute dimple cheeked Casper. He came home in size 6X.
We suited up, pulling up the pre-flame retardant regulation nylon costumes that would instantly take you from Little Red Riding Hood to the superhero Human Torch if you got anywhere near a parent’s lit cigarette. My grandmother shook her head muttering about the silliness of it all as she tied the strings at the top of our costumes in a double knot.
Does anyone remember those stiff plastic masks? With the skinniest of elastic bands stapled into place, with scarcely any room for a decent sized nose behind it? Does anyone remember the way your hot breath would turn the non breathable plastic into a Scandinavian steam room within seconds of stepping out into the cold night?
This was after dark, in late October. While your hands and toes and ears were freezing, your face would be getting a moisture beauty treatment. And those half inch horizontal eye slits cut into the masks as a lie that they would allow vision? I still remember looking down and getting my eyelashes caught in the sharp plastic edges. To this day, I thank the god of corneal abrasions for saving my eyesight.
Years later, looking at a picture of all of us on this night, a picture long since lost, I see us lined up tallest to cutest, right before we left the house: Fred (me), Hobo (brother), Bozo (brother), and Cute Casper (baby sister). I looked at this picture, and remembered the feeling of resignation to my lot. At the time, it was equal parts anger mixed with despair. Fred Flintstone! What if some pink sparkly princess from school saw me as Fred Flintstone! Not only was I store bought but I was gender incorrect, too.
If only that was where the story stopped. We were also sent out with a bag of pennies, so that no one could come back to say we took candy from them. The Colombian motto: ”expect revenge from everyone, and give no one a reason to say you owe them something.”
Ding dong, it’s your Colombian connection. Can I give you a penny for that Peanut Butter twist?
Alexandra is an overanalyzing, oversensitive mother of three boys who somehow found herself named as BlogHer ’11′s Voice of The Year for Humor. She has been a mother since 1994, which means she hasn’t been right about anything since. She blogs of the sweet and the funny while trying to go unnoticed in her small town. You can find her at Good Day, Regular People. Did we mention socially awkward? We should, which is why the internet was made for her.